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Renaissance Patterns


Reciprocal Design in Italian Renaissance Wood Intarsia: Patterns, Parasites, and Human/More-than-Human Making

Marta Ajmar

Published online:

04 Mar 2024



This article explores how Italian Renaissance intarsia emerged from making practices sensitive to wood as animate material, and from a design correspondence with its environment. It argues that intarsia reconciled different modes: design-drawing, design in wood, and design with wood. These interconnected practices allow us to reconfigure intarsia as a technology created holistically from the correspondence of different human and more-than-human forces, including parasites – such as woodworm and fungi – and elemental factors – such as heat, water and air – all mobilised in active processes of pattern-making. It shows how this “Wood Age” craft is also an ecologically-rooted response to growing concerns about timber availability and forest sustainability. Finally, it proposes for intarsia the concept of reciprocal design, where patterns emerge from continuous correspondence and co-making between human and more-than-human agents.

Other articles in this issue:

Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte Issues

Volume 87 (2024)
Volume 86 (2023)
Volume 85 (2022)
Volume 84 (2021)
Volume 83 (2020)
Volume 82 (2019)
Volume 81 (2018)
Volume 80 (2017)
Volume 79 (2016)

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